Foreign Policy Research Institute

+38 (044) 287 52 58

Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

Ukraine’s foreign policy strategy as a roadmap to the future


On July 30, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine adopted Ukraine's foreign policy strategy. The doctrinal foundations of Ukrainian foreign policy were laid back in 1993 and approved by the Verkhovna Rada in a document entitled «On the Main Directions of Ukraine's Foreign Policy». However, all these years there was a lack of a strategy for their implementation, so the Ukrainian foreign policy was wandering between the multi-vector and two-vector policy, non-aligned status and Euro-Atlantic integration. In other words, it was characterized by uncertainty, while Ukraine remained in the gray zone of international relations and the object of foreign policy influences. The new document corresponds to the current domestic and international conditions in which Ukraine finds itself today and looking for the ways of its further development.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed that the new document was developed on behalf of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The head of state previously noted the need for a clear foreign policy strategy to effectively protect Ukraine's national interests. Experts and scientists, representatives of leading analytical centers in the field of foreign policy, the National Institute for Strategic Studies, high-level experts from among the former heads of the diplomatic service were involved in the development of the Strategy. According to the head of the foreign policy department, the Foreign Policy Strategy is a voluminous document containing 254 points, but its content can be systematized into three main themes.

«The first – Ukraine is an active player in international politics, the second – Ukraine is forming a security architecture for itself, the region and the world, and the third – Ukraine is a country of new economic opportunities. These three principles will be laid down in every step we take in the external arena», Dmytro Kuleba said. At the same time, the document identifies six priority areas of foreign policy activity: the first – ensuring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; the second is to oppose the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation; the third principle is the course for EU and NATO membership; the fourth – promotion of Ukrainian exports and investment; the fifth – protection of the rights and interests of Ukrainian citizens abroad; the sixth – promoting a positive image of Ukraine in the world.

The external action strategy is one more strategic document adopted by the administration of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Analyzing the published in the media part of this document,[1] we can conclude that it is based on the National Security Strategy of Ukraine, which was adopted in autumn 2020. Also, the goals set by the Annual National Program, developed under the auspices of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, were taken into account. The strategy states its implementation will be carried out in compliance with the following principles:

  1. resilience – the ability of the state and society to effectively counter threats of any origin and nature, including military aggression, economic pressure, political destabilization, cyberattacks, misinformation and other hybrid means of influence, adapt to changes in the security environment, maintain sustainable functioning, quickly restore balance after crisis;
  2. rule of international law – observance of norms and principles of international law, trust in international institutions, fulfillment of international obligations, observance of agreements and treaties. In this context, it is worth noting the intention enshrined in the Strategy to use diplomatic means to bring the Russian Federation to international legal responsibility for an armed aggression, to intensify activities within international institutions in order to receive reparations for damage caused to Ukraine as a result of temporary occupation. One of such tools is the Budapest format. According to the Budapest Memorandum, the signatory countries, such as the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom, have pledged to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity in exchange for the world's third nuclear arsenal. The Strategy states that it was after this that Ukraine joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is the cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation in the world. Therefore, despite the fact that the Budapest Memorandum was ignored after the start of the aggression against Ukraine, it still remains a strong argument for the need to comply with it, if the United States hopes that countries such as North Korea or Iran will eventually give up on their own nuclear programs given Ukrainian experience.
  3. adaptability – prompt response to changes in the international environment, effective crisis management in the field of foreign policy, innovation in approaches and tools, flexibility in decision-making;
  4. interaction – effective coordination and communication between state bodies of Ukraine, as well as with other actors of international relations - states and non-state institutions, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, business, scientific and academic circles, mass media;
  5. pragmatism – the development of bilateral relations and multilateral diplomacy based on national interests in order to solve specific foreign policy problems, the use of economic diplomacy to promote sustainable development of the Ukrainian economy and increase the welfare of Ukrainians;
  6. human-centrism – recognition of human life, dignity and human rights as the highest values; protection, promotion and facilitation of the interests of Ukrainian citizens in the world and foreign Ukrainians as the main task of Ukrainian diplomacy.

Ukraine's foreign policy strategy is a document of medium-term planning of state policy in the field of foreign relations, which will allow the country to more effectively coordinate its foreign policy, properly allocating resources between short-, medium- and long-term goals. Recently, there have been many manipulations within Ukraine regarding the further direction of the state's development. A number of Ukrainian high-ranking officials made ambiguous statements about Ukraine's relations with China, the United States, and the European Union, which led to speculation about Ukraine's future foreign policy. The document puts an end to such speculations and clearly defines the future course that will guide civil servants in the future, regardless of their personal views on certain issues related to the field of foreign relations. Such certainty and clarity of the foreign policy course creates the image of a reliable partner for Ukraine, which will allow the state to build more trusting relations with partner countries and conduct more effective foreign policy.